Hannah Storm, who changed her name but never her enthusiasm, has landed her dream job. Storm, the daughter of sports executive Mike Storen, signed a three-year contract with NBC Sports earlier this week.
Storm, who first came to national attention as a sports anchor at CNN in 1989, will make her NBC debut late next month at Wimbledon. Then it's on to the Summer Olympics, where she'll co-host the network's late-night show with Jim Lampley.
Storm, a 1983 Notre Dame graduate, is ready for the big time. Oh, is she ready.
"My goal was to go to a network and to do an Olympics," said Storm. "I'm a really persistent person, and I had faith in myself. I knew it could happen, but I got a lot of rejection along the way."
Storm, 29, was born in Oak Park, Ill., while her father, Mike Storen, was an executive with the Zephyrs, Chicago's previous National Basketball Association franchise. The Zephyrs didn't last long (eventually moving to Baltimore), and neither did the Storens in Oak Park.
"I've lived all over the country," said Storm, who wound up back in the Midwest when she attended Notre Dame. It was in South Bend where she got her start in TV, interning at the local NBC affiliate as well as working on the syndicated Notre Dame football telecasts.
Because of her father's business, Storm grew up in the world of sports. "It was just part of my life," she said. "I was never a sports fanatic. I was sort of an artsy kid, always drawing and painting. But sports were always part of my life, because of my father.
"Athletes were always around our home. When it wasn't a school night, we'd go to a basketball game. We talked about sports at the dinner table. I was always very comfortable around sports because it was something my family was always involved in."
When she got to Notre Dame, Storm decided to use her love of performing ("I was such a ham") in TV rather than the theater. "And the natural thing was to go into sports," she said.
Natural, but not necessarily easy. Storm is only the second woman hired by NBC Sports, joining Gayle Gardner. CBS has three women -- Mary Carillo, Andrea Joyce and Lesley Visser -- as on-air talent. ABC claims to have 10, counting all its commentators. [The pioneer of women network sports personalities was Andrea Kirby, hired away from Baltimore's WJZ-TV in the late '70s by ABC.]
"When I got out of college, I could not find a [sportscasting] job," Storm said. "Initially, I got into radio and then worked my way back to television. There was quite a bit of resistance in 1983 to putting women on the air to do sports. It was considered quite a risk."
That's why she's eager to work with Gardner. "Gayle broke that barrier at ESPN and then when she went to NBC," said Storm, who wouldn't let a little thing like sex discrimination bother her.
"I've always been persistent," said Storm, who eventually worked as a television and radio reporter in Houston before moving to a Charlotte, N.C., TV station in March 1988. One year later, she was hired by CNN as a weekend and late-night sports anchor. Last summer, Storm co-anchored Turner Sports' coverage of the Goodwill Games.
"I still met incredible resistance along the way," she recalled. "I xTC got passed over for three or four jobs in Houston. I'm not counting the hundreds of rejections. Or not being able to get an agent that would take a woman interested in sports. Or all the news directors who would tell me, 'I can't take the risk of hiring a woman to do sports.' That was really discouraging."
Changing her name from Storen to Storm was "just a little gimmick" she picked up on her first job at Corpus Christi, Texas, and had nothing to do with attracting attention. "It just stuck," she said.
The name change came in handy while she was working at CNN. Ted Turner, head of that cable empire, told Storm recently he never knew she was related to Storen. A good thing, too, she said, "because he fired my father" as president of the Atlanta Hawks. Storen, who also was commissioner of the ill-fated American Basketball Association, currently runs the Global Basketball Association.
Storm likely will return to Notre Dame this fall as a sideline reporter for NBC's Irish football telecasts. "I would be so thrilled to do Notre Dame football," she gushed, "because of my emotional ties. But that's something [NBC] may be wary of."
CNN colleague Dan Hicks also may be joining Storm at NBC. "I know they've made him an offer," Storm said.
Storm and Hicks aren't the only new acquisitions for NBC. Former Bengals wide receiver -- and HBO mainstay -- Cris Collinsworth will replace Bill Walsh as analyst on the Notre Dame telecasts this fall. Collinsworth will team with play-by-play man Tom Hammond, replacing last year's broadcast team of Dick Enberg and Walsh. Enberg will return to strictly NFL games, teaming with Bob Trumpy. Also, Bill Parcells will leave the studio to replace Trumpy as Don Criqui's partner. Due to Parcells' recent heart problems, he won't work a full schedule. While no replacement for Parcells on the pregame "NFL Live" was named, analyst Todd Christensen reportedly is in line for the job.